Sunday, March 13, 2011

Just finished moderating a fantastic panel at SXSW: E-Race—Anonymity, Avatarization and the Virtualization of Identity

I can't say enough about the panelists, W. James Au (author of The Making of Second Life) and Lisa Nakamura (director of Asian American Studies at U. of Illinois–Urbana, Champaign and editor of Digitizing Race and CyberTypes) — they were prepared, incredibly knowledgable and, yes, funny as hell. Our conversation began with a reassessment of the nature and definition of race, followed by James's exploration of race and identity in the world of avatars and Lisa's discussion of racism as mediated by (and exacerbated by) technology. Brazilian bodythieves on Second Life, how black sellers on Craigslist get offered puppies for iPods, the genocide of female dwarves in Lineage II, trolling for lulz on TechCrunch — the conversation went numerous places but all of them were directly germane to the topic, which had implications and dimensions that neither the audience nor the panelists were fully aware of until we started talking.

Our PowerPoint presentation is available below, as is the awesome Visual Notes doodle created by Heather Willems of ImageThink on behalf of Ogilvy (which selected certain panels — the coolest ones, ahem — for visualization in this graphical outline medium. I'll link the podcast when it's available as well. It's a must-listen, if I do say so myself!

erace_final.pdf Download this file


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